Last updated in June 2013
The Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cyprus on 20 August 1960, shortly after the country gained independence on 16 August 1960. There is close and trustful cooperation between the two countries at government level. Cyprus’ accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004 gave relations between the two countries a new dimension. Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited Cyprus on 22 and 23 July 2010 and Federal Chancellor Merkel also paid a visit on 11 January 2011. Mutual visits were especially frequent prior to and during Cyprus’ EU Presidency in the second half of 2012. Many members of the Federal Cabinet and numerous other high-ranking Federal Government representatives travelled to Cyprus for informal ministerial meetings and other events connected with Cyprus’ EU Presidency.
In her capacity as CDU party chair, on 11 January 2013 Angela Merkel attended the European People’s Party (EPP) meeting in Limassol at the invitation of Nikos Anastasiades, President of the DISY. There is also lively exchange at parliamentary level. The German Bundestag’s German-Cypriot Parliamentary Friendship Group visited Cyprus in October 2011, as did the German Bundestag’s Committee on the Affairs of the European Union in July 2012. Since Cyprus applied for assistance through the European Stability Mechanism in late June 2012, talks have focused on the economic and financial crisis, for example during visits to Cyprus by the German Bundestag’s Committee on Economics and Technology in March and the Bundestag’s Finance Committee in April 2013. In May 2013, there were further parliamentary visits to Cyprus: by a delegation of Bavaria’s regional parliament and by a delegation of Saxony-Anhalt’s regional parliament.
Turkey’s 1974 military intervention in the north of the island effectively divided the country in two. Germany does not maintain official relations with the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognized only by Turkey) but has wide-ranging contacts with representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community at political and cultural level.
Soon after Cyprus gained its independence, a trade and economic agreement was concluded between the two countries (1961), followed by an air transport agreement (1967), a double taxation agreement (1974) and an agreement on cross-border passenger and freight transport (1980). From 1987 onwards, the bulk of these agreements became EU law which, since Cyprus’ accession to the EU on 1 May 2004, now also applies in Cyprus. The new double taxation agreement entered into force on 16 December 2011 and was effective as of 1 January 2012.
In 2012, German imports from Cyprus dropped sharply compared with the previous year, from EUR 236.2 million to EUR 133.7 million, a decline of 43.4 per cent. At the same time, German exports to Cyprus fell by 10.3 per cent, from EUR 741.8 million to EUR 665.5 million, further increasing Germany’s export surplus in trade with Cyprus, to EUR 531.8 million. According to Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) figures, Germany’s principal exports to Cyrus include electronic goods (14.1 per cent of total imports), food (13 per cent), non-ferrous metals (9.8 per cent), chemical products (9.7 per cent) and raw materials (7.4 per cent). In the tourist industry, an important sector for Cyprus, Germany ranked third in 2012 with 144,500 visitors, after the United Kingdom (approximately 1 million visitors) and Russia (approximately 500,000). There is especially close cooperation between Cyprus and Germany in the shipping sector, which is based in Limassol. This sector accounts for more than 7 per cent of the country’s GDP. Cyprus operates the world’s tenth largest fleet (currently numbering 2,400 vessels). The shipping industry provides some 4,500 onshore jobs and employs approximately 55,000 seafarers.
The banking, financial services (and related) sectors are disproportionately important to Cyprus’ economy. Following the memorandum of understanding between Cyprus and the Troika (EU Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank) on ways to overcome the economic and financial crisis, the country’s financial sector is undergoing a process of restructuring and consolidation. There are no German banks with branches in Cyprus.
Germany maintains close cultural relations to both ethnic communities on the island as well as to the autochthonous Maronite community. The cornerstone of cultural relations between Germany and Cyprus is the Goethe Institute in Nicosia, which was re-opened in July 2011 after being closed for more than ten years. There is also a German-Cypriot Cultural Association, which cooperates closely with the Goethe Institute and the German Embassy in Nicosia, and a German-Turkish Cypriot Cultural Association. Other German-Cypriot organizations (German teachers’ and alumni associations) contribute to German cultural offerings on the island. A cultural agreement with the Republic of Cyprus was concluded in 1971.
German as a foreign language gained popularity among Greek Cypriots and there is a keen demand for the Goethe Institute’s language courses. There are now two PASCH schools in Cyprus (one and Limassol and one in Nicosia). A global network of schools is being built with the ‘Schools: Partners for the Future’ initiative (PASCH). More information is available at www.pasch-net.de.
In the Turkish-occupied North of the island, German can be chosen as the second foreign language, along with 12 other languages. However, interest in German as a foreign language has declined there since pupils have been able to drop foreign languages in favour of other subjects.
In recent years, Germany has become attractive as a study destination for Cypriot students, academics and researchers, thanks to its low tuition fees, high quality of education and good career opportunities. Bilateral academic and scientific cooperation is intensifying. In 2011, for example, the Max Planck Society and the Cyprus Institute signed a memorandum of understanding that, among other things, will promote research cooperation. Germans are among the researchers working at the prestigious Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics in Nicosia.
Many Cypriots from the country’s two ethnic communities have studied in Germany, often with scholarships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and other funding agencies. An Institute for Interdisciplinary Cypriot Studies was established at the University of Münster in 1997 and there has been a DAAD lectureship at the University of Cyprus since the 2003 winter semester. Additional German lecturers at other higher education institutions in the island’s north and south are helping to intensify existing academic contacts, foster new ones and promote interest in studying in Germany.
The Republic of Cyprus has also made it more attractive for German students to study there. In addition to the country’s state universities (the University of Cyprus in Nicosia and the Cyprus University of Technology in Limassol), a number of private higher education institutions also participate in exchange programmes with German and European partner universities.
In 2004, an agreement on mutual recognition of university degrees (equivalency agreement) was signed. This is designed to facilitate Cypriot and German students’ admission to German and Cypriot universities and the subsequent recognition of university degrees obtained at these institutions in the respective partner country.